SLM Combats. Wikimedia Commons

Darfur, Theater of War

"As the Pope has repeatedly affirmed, dialogue and solidarity must prevail over war and violence." A look at the current conflict in Darfur.
Filippo Ciantia

Darfur is the theater of a dramatic humanitarian crisis, in which an Islamic government is fighting two Islamic rebel groups, and persecuting a wholly Muslim civil population. The two armed movements, the Sudan Resistance Army (SLA-M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), rose up against Khartoum in February 2003. The interpretation of this fact as a conflict between Christians and Muslims, which might have been feasible for the war in Southern Sudan between the SPLA and the government army, is not credible in this case. We can speak, rather, of a clash between Africans and Arabs. It is curious to note that one year ago, at the Rimini Meeting, the Ugandan Vice-President, Gilbert Bukenya, insisted on the fact that the war in Southern Sudan was not a religious conflict, but just one more colonialist phenomenon, with the Arab North wanting to control the natural resources of the African South. Not only can we count more than a million people displaced or escaped, not only is the death rate among children at a catastrophic level, but all this is aggravated by the fact that the humanitarian organizations have no access to the people in need. This blocking of humanitarian aid is a new cruel strategy of isolation and punishment of the civilian population, to add to the phenomenon of child soldiers. Like in the nearby conflict in Northern Uganda, the local population is not only the victim, but also the hostage and slave in a strategy of conquest and domination.

There is urgent need for intervention by the international community, and most of all by the African Union, so as to provide humanitarian assistance and to look for a political solution. During the last week of August, almost at the same time, peace talks promoted by the African Union began in Abuja (Nigeria) for the case of Darfur, and peace negotiations for Sudan re-opened in Kenya. As the Pope has repeatedly affirmed, dialogue and solidarity must prevail over war and violence.